Core Strokes™

What is/are CORE STROKES™ ? 

Close-up Photography of a ManAccording to the Pathwork (Eva Pierrakos), our divine CORE (sometimes called, “the Center of Right Energy”) is the repository of endless joy, intuition and creativity. It contains wisdom, happiness and the answer to all questions about our growth and development. This CORE part of us would seem to be all we would ever want to be and express. It is also the part of us that knows no fear and understands and welcomes our very life task. Our Higher self (or real self) is the expression of God within, the essence of Divine Qualities (Love, Power, Serenity, Wisdom). Yet our CORE is obscured by other layers in our personality (our Lower self and our Masks) which interpose themselves between our CORE and the world. Our Lower self is basically the selfish attitude about ourselves, our willful ignorance, our desire to destroy life and isolate the self. Here we have evil/demonic qualities (Self-Will, Submission, Fear). Our masks are the part of ourselves we create to hide both our Lower and our Higher selves. We keep Mask Selves because we know we will not be accepted if our hate of selfishness is plain for all to see. We also mask our Higher Self because we are somehow ashamed of our beauty and spiritual power.

In other words, our Mask Self - the outer and visible layer for others -  is the self we habitually show to others to deny both the worst and the best in our selves. We create, with our Mask Self a safe, conventional but ultimately unfulfilling pseudo-truth about ourselves. The truth about ourselves remains hidden until we go on the journey of self-discovery. The frontispiece of the Temple of Delphi says "know thyselves" in imperative form and indicates that man must stand and live according to his nature. Man has to look at himself.

But this is something difficult. As children we were made to feel ashamed of our (especially lower) selves. An idealized self-image came to be - which we present to the world and want to believe is who we are - and we feared that being honest about our negative feelings would cause us to be rejected by our parents. So we covered our Lower Self feelings with a mask that we hoped would insure our lovability... As a child one is placed in a dilemma of having to give up an impulse or a certain resource in order to maintain the mutual contact, or one has to give up the contact all together in order to keep the impulse... This process is the origin of what Wilhelm Reich called "armoring". With armor in place, the conscious control no longer has to actively defend against certain impulses or desires. We now have a relatively unconscious and unwanted inner prison of suppressed impulses like distrust, fear, hate, cruelty, separateness and negativity. The price we pay for this imprisonment of certain impulses, feelings and desires is off course that it also keeps us from pleasure and being in our "greatness". Implicitly all character structures come about through breaks in mutual connection... or when parts of our selves are not welcomed or even considered.... Every time there is a break in mutual connection there is a break in development (= Developmental trauma). Character armor as a result leads furthermore to emotional rigidity, poor contact with others (the walls we build around us), and a feeling of ‘deadness.’ 

Character defenses as shown in our MASK are a distortion of a divine quality, which exists in our CORE (our Center of Right Energy). We find submission and dependency as pseudo-solutions for Love, aggression and control as distortions of Power, or detachment and withdrawal as substitutes and caricatures for Serenity. Underneath withdrawal is confusion and chaos, loneliness, pain. Underneath control and aggression is collapse, helplessness, pain. Underneath submission is aggression, fear and frustration, pain. Most often all these patterns of fear, withdrawal and avoidance lead to a sensation of inadequacy and unnaturalness and off course...pain.... 

 

Armoring

Wilhelm Reich, MD -  the grandfather of Body Psychotherapy -  showed that at the level of the body, all these defense mechanisms show as chronic holding, energetic under- or over-charged areas and "energy blocks". Energy blocks, John C. Pierrakos, MD (founder of Core Energetics) said, are stagnated pools of vital substance that accumulate in the defensive perimeter and "armor" it in dysfunctional patterns that he named Character structures. Knight Armor

When we become armored, our pulsation — an intrinsic aspect of life which reflects the dynamic cycle of expansion and contraction in all life processes —  is interrupted and the movement restricted; the energy flow throughout our body is impeded. Because armoring restricts the free flowing of our life force, it inevitably impacts our health, vitality and sexuality, creates stress. It also blocks our access to our "higher self" and our evolutionary potential. Wilhelm Reich showed that the body is „living memory” and carries in it the signs and traces of our personal life experience as well as our familial heritage. All kinds of traumatic experiences and learned fears, "impregnate" our character and influence our posture. Armoring then is the dynamic creation of the whole organism as a self-defense (protection) against traumatic experiences. We may experience this in our lives as a hypervulnerability, a lack of sensation, aliveness, a stiffness or tension. And when in this way, we are imprisoned in unconscious ways of "being", we lose flexibility necessary for healthy adaptation.

Armoring is demonstrable.

Muscular Armor can be palpated as muscle hypertension or hypotension. It can also be observed as impairment in movement. Patterns of armor do not strictly follow the pathways of voluntary motor nerves but rather show up as bands or segments. That is because armoring is more a result of autonomic nervous system activity and so follows involuntary patterns more than voluntary motor patterns. 

Low-angle Photography of Building Showing Airplane on SkiesThe chronic perpetuation of the defense may have the consequence of consolidation and hardening (= rigid, hyper-response) or of weakening (hypo-response) of the muscular aspect, which then holds the particular defense pattern, including the mental-emotional aspects, indefinitely in place. This process is by definition unconscious and resists change. This is a problem, but it may be — slowly and with effort — reversed in body-centered therapy. We remark that most if not all soft tissue, including connective tissue and muscle tissue may have a neutral, hypo-, or hyper-responsive dynamic which results in a compromised emotional, psychological and spiritual stance towards life.

Connective Tissue - Myofascial - Armoring

Reich introduced the term "muscular armoring", but today we know that psychological imprinting applies to other tissues in the body -importantly the connective tissue category of "(myo)fascia". The fascia is a system of fibers that surround nearly all the soft tissues of the body (organs, muscles, etc.), serving to wrap, hold together, link up, and support these structures. We can clinically distinguish between fascia and muscle tissue even though they are intertwined.

From an anatomical-physiological point of view, the fascia is a more primitive, less differentiated structure than is voluntary musculature, and it functions more along with the reflex system than the voluntary system. Thus it is more dominant very early in life, before the voluntary has had a chance to take hold, and it is also more involved in shock trauma situations where again, the voluntary system is overwhelmed by the involuntary. Unresolved birth issues and other traumatic experiences can be felt in the fascial network. 

Jack Painter, PhD - founder of the famous Postural Integration® - helped us understand that in order to aid the person in the process of release (de-armoring) at the level of the fascia we need a perspective of character style. Depending on the character pattern, myofascial armoring can be seen in the way the fascia is dispersed in clumps, collapses, has the quality of a liquid balloon, is dense, conflict, thick or thin, stringy, soft and malleable on the outside, fibrous or stringy deeper down or squishy with lack of tone and responsiveness.

Jack also stressed that it is important that we understand the power of what we desire deep inside of us, to be able to create our experiences. Those on a spiritual path need to appreciate that there is a profoundly spiritual aspect to "letting go" on the physical plane. This is important to realize. To reclaim our connection to the Cosmic Pulse, we must pay attention to our body and to our instinctual drives, our attraction and how we become and remain attached. Release (de-armoring) always reveals the deeper currents of energy and the consciousness of the evolutionary step forwards.

CORE STROKES™ - a further integration and next step.

Four Person Standing at Top of Grassy Mountain

In these very "liquid" days where old paradigms, traditional mythologies and religions fall apart, and new ones are not on the horizon, painstakingly progress is being made by those who integrate and unify what actually works. Core Strokes™ brings two very important therapeutic streams (which in themselves are already integrative modalities) together to reinstate our natural pulsation and to find and further develop our capacity to live from our CORE-essence.

Core Strokes™ touches upon the evolutionary process of the living Soul by unlocking the hidden treasures of the bodymind. The deeper message is that we must be determined to own ourselves, to know in our bones that we belong to ourselves. We have to claim our life as our own, apart from the conditioning and programming of family and society. In our story of individual development —in order to develop a consciousness and to move forthrightly out into the world — we need to call ourselves out of unconsciousness by way of free will. By becoming conscious of our character  defense patterns and dissolving our body armor, we naturally and spontaneously embrace life in the way suited to us. Core Strokes™ combines theoretical and practical aspects of on the one hand Core Energetics (developed by John C. Pierrakos, MD) and on the other hand Postural Integration® (developed by Jack W. Painter, PhD). Core Strokes™ sessions specifically help a person to dissolve segmental and "muscular and myofascial armoring", which is a part of our emotional defense system. 

Letting go of the old, coming out with the new. Life as change.A Photography Of A Man Standing On A Tree

Armoring is originally a protection and survival mechanism, and now serves, mostly, as a defense against feelings like anxiety, anger, fear, and sexual excitation. Seen it is a chronic, unconscious, involuntary pattern of constriction, hyper- or hypo-responsiveness it CAN NOT BE LET GO THROUGH THE WILL. In Core Strokes™ sessions the practitioner helps the client to let go of the holding patterns and also to invite him/her to come out with a new part of themselves, or an old part of themselves that has been hiding in their body as symptoms. The presence of the therapist should give the client the courage to begin revealing (become conscious), purifying and transforming all that is coming to the surface from the inner depths.

Practical - Core Strokes™  Classes/Modules.

In Core Strokes™  classes, we address Reason, Will, and Emotion as distinct aspects of learning. Learning in itself is seen as a whole-body experience. We use and develop both brain hemispheres: The right hemisphere for unity, connection and relationship; the left hemisphere for linearity, autonomy and consistency. The attitudes being developed in Core Strokes™  are unconditional positive regard, empathy, congruence, authenticity, caring for the self and for the other. The work uses phenomenological assessment strategies, fosters deep self-discovery, brings insight and permits therapeutic intervention in life areas which are otherwise hardly accessible, such as love, hope, meaning of life, loss, relationships, creativity, holism, spirituality, freedom, transcendence, personal growth, social justice, multicultural and gender issues, responsibility, and interdependence. Core Strokes™ works with the integration of body, emotions, mind, will and the spiritual dimension. However pragmatic the work, it refers also to collective wisdom sources and mystical principles. We always also draw on the wisdom in the room. 

Core Strokes™ is structured in four levels (following the Postural Integration® scheme of release and integration), each of which is offered in 7 day Modules in different countries. The four Modules can be taken in chronological order in a period of 2 years, leading to certification in Core Strokes™ Level I-IV. A third year with a supervised internship also leads to certification in Postural Integration® (PI) (ICPIT Diploma). There is an international register of Postural Integration® and Core Strokes™ Practitioners.

Dirk Marivoet & The Development of Core Strokes™ 

Dirk Marivoet (°1960), studied physiotherapy (MSc. KU Leuven (B) and Psychomotor Therapy (MSc. KU Leuven-one of the oldest and most renowned universities in Europe). While still an intern, Dirk was introduced to Bio-Energetics in 1982, which he pursued for many years. For 11 years (between 1984 and 1995) he worked and taught at the psychiatric centers of the KU Leuven. There he was further introduced to many body psychotherapeutic modalities like Core Energetics, Postural Integration, Pesso Therapy, Dance Movement Psychotherapy, Encounter, etc. He was in learning therapy, and became a Postural Integration® practitioner in 1987. He continued to collaborate with Jack W. Painter, PhD. until his death in 2010 (Master Practitioner in 1989, Practitioner for Energetic Integration® in 1992 and Practitioner in Pelvic-Heart Integration® in 2001, 3-Years Helper-Trainer, 3 Years Assistant-trainer, ICPIT-Trainer in Postural Integration® in 1999, Trainer in Energetic Integration® in 2002 and Trainer in Pelvic-Heart Integration in 2004). While learning and Practicing Psychomotor therapy and Bodymind Integration he also met John Pierrakos in 1995 and started training with him and Siegmar Gerken (Graduated in 1999). Dirk practiced Core Energetics and Postural Integration alongside ever since. In 2008 (until present) he became a teacher of Core Energetics at the Netherlands Institute of Core Energetics (NICE). Since 2017 he is also a mmber of the Greek Institute of Core Energetics. Dirk has lectured in numerous Congresses and Conventions of Bodymind Integration (the first one in 1993 in Villersexel France), Body Psychotherapy (several in the 1990's and 2000's) and Core Energetics (2014, 2016 and 2018). 

Taken into consideration the perfect synergy and complementarity of Postural Integration® and Core Energetics, Dirk now offers Core-Strokes™ a coherent synthesis of both approaches serving personal and collective evolution. In 2020 (continuing in later years) the first training in Core Strokes™ will take place. Training Modules and Workshops are planned and foreseen in Europe (France, Belgium, Netherlands, Corsica, Italy, UK, etc.) and other continents (South Africa, Australia, USA, Canada, Mexico and South America). See elsewhere for a list of currently planned activities. 

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